Hello there! I am Chin Jie Yin, currently a year 1 Psychology student in the National University of Singapore.
I completed my Australian Matriculation (AUSMAT) in Sunway College JB in 2014, and received the Western Australian Certificate of Education (WACE). For those who don’t know, AUSMAT is the Australian equivalent of Cambridge A-levels. I took 5 subjects: English, Mathematics, Physics, Biology and Chemistry, and got an ATAR of 96.45, which qualified me to make an application to NUS. Their minimum requirement is an ATAR 90, with at least 94 preferred to make a competitive application, according to the website.
When I applied, I had to include my results from secondary school up till pre-u, along with various co-curricular activities and achievements along the way. These included competitions on various levels, positions held, or any noteworthy events. I included details of my time in the drama club in secondary school, the competitions we participated in and the prizes we won. Additionally, I was supposed to submit proof of competency in English, which I did by submitting my IELTS results.
Besides these, I recall having to answer a short essay question that concerns an event that has a large impact on me. I don’t remember the exact details, but I remember writing about my time in secondary 2 and met with some obstacles that I eventually had to overcome on my own. I suppose this section was to assess language competency and how reflective one is. Well played, NUS, well played.
Aside from the application, there was no entrance test to take, unlike NTU. So all I had to do after I submitted my application was to wait for the letter of acceptance/rejection. The only test I took I was IELTS since many universities require it in the application. It was rather easy, and I just bought the reference book to look through and try the questions. I took the test after a preparation of a month and got an overall score of 8.0. The tip is to be familiar with the style and format of testing, and prepare with that in mind. The difficulty is not a problem if you have sufficient basic background to know good grammar.
As I only put these 2 choices in my application: Arts & Social Sciences and Science, I did not need to attend any interviews for admission into the courses, which were only required for Architecture, Dentistry, Industrial Design, Law, Medicine and Nursing. However, since I applied to Ridge View Residential College (RVRC), a residential college program for freshmen, I had to go through a Skype interview. The atmosphere was rather friendly, though I still felt nervous as it was my first ever interview of such nature. I was asked about my interests and why I wanted to join the program. It wasn’t very tense, as the questions were to know more about my personal opinions, so there was no pressure in giving the right answer, as long as they were answered truthfully from your own point of view.
Eventually, I think what helped me in my application are my co-curricular records and academic achievements within the school (eg. Getting best in subject or top 5 in level) Besides just CCA records, I also included the personal achievements such as being selected to do a short video for a Chinese teaching material that MOE was going to use, representing my school in the Australian Mathematics Competition and so on. In addition to these were my O level and AUSMAT results. I probably would not have made it into NUS if I only had one without the other.
That was how I applied to NUS. I will suggest future applicants to make the effort to include every single achievement or participation in events or competitions in the application, whether they are only on a school level or a larger scale, or whether you think it’s relevant to the course you’re applying for, while not forgetting to include good academic records. For the mini essay part, I would suggest applicants to write with purpose, and to write eloquently with sincerity. You only have one shot at this so make it count, so you will have no regrets. In fact, you may thank yourself later for being so serious about this when you are enjoying life in NUS.
With that, I would like to wish all prospective NUS students all the best in your application and university life!
Jie Yin is a daydreamer pursuing her Psychology degree in the National University of Singapore. Sometimes when she smiles her dimples will show, but most of the time they remain hidden like elusive creatures.